13th December, 2009
This is the first book sent to me from Packt where I wasn’t left dizzy from trying to understand just what it is the author was trying to get across. It looks like their proof-reader was awake for this one – totally awesome.
“jQuery 1.3 with PHP” is aimed “for PHP application developers who want to improve their user interfaces through jQuery’s capabilities and responsiveness”. Over the course of ten chapters Verens starts the off with an introduction, then a series of ‘Quick Tricks’ that almost immediately help you add some measure of “Web 2.0″ functionality to what I’d term a “web 0.2 application” rather sharply.
The book ends with a chapter on Optimization – some of which you are bound to already know and some which are complete gems.
In the middle are chapters with mini-projects on tabs and accordians, forms and form validation, file management, calendars (and how to make your own google-calendar-like application), image manipulation, drag and drop and data tables.
In each case, projects are analysed and the required steps for each are outlined in the simplest terms – no extraneous buzzwords are used or are the projects over-analysed for the sake of pedantry.
I was a little surprised in some places where, for example, the json encoded output was not created via json_encode; but then thought not everyone is going to have PHP 5.2 or greater installed. Thumb forward a few pages and this is mentioned. So all’s o k.
It was good to see Kae suggesting use of the PEAR Validate package (or similar) in the Forms and Forms Validation chapter (chapter 4). I had to wonder if there was a PEAR package for creating and shunting down jQuery validation rules to the client – and found that there isn’t. That’s something to consider for later on, I guess.
The rest of the book is similarly both easy to read and easy to understand – my first port of call for learning how to do something that I’d almost term exotic with jQuery and with PHP in the background is usually Google but that is going to change (actually it already has).
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this books working title was “JQuery and PHP: The HowTo” – it is that good.
Now, this book is not for learning jQuery – that is not within its remit, but I would heartily recomend “jQuery 1.3 with PHP” by Kae Verens to anyone wanting to utilise jQuery from a PHP background.
Posted at 11:46 pm | Comments Off
27th October, 2009
A while ago I was sent a complimentary review copy of “Beginning Joomla! (Second Edition)” by Dan Rahmel and published by Apress.
In a clear non-patronising and concise manner the author explains to the reader just what Joomla is (a content management system), how to install, add content, administer, design templates and write extensions for it. He touches on SEO and covers the aspects of both deploying Joomla on Windows, Linux and Mac.
Done in a gentle manner with graceful explanations along the way, he explains everything in a clear manner: how to troubleshoot not being able to access the web or database servers and even mentioning the password system differs from version 4 to version 5 of mysql, for example.
There are a few points in the book that startled me however; Rahmel informs the reader in chapter three that if XAMPP is used as a means of installing the base requirements then certain security concerns need to be addressed. In chapter two he states PHP 4.3.10 as the lowest version required – I’m surprised that a later version of PHP 4 wasn’t recommended, even though 4.3.10 may be the lowest required version – version
4.4.10 4.4.9 for example which is the very last version of PHP to ever be released. I hope this is just a typo that hadn’t been caught in time.
If it was not, then I’d have to express a certain level of professional disappointment; the security enhancements and bug fixes in PHP 4.4.10 should definitely have been enumerated. While it is true to say that most installs of Joomla are into shared hosting environments where such changes can not be implemented, I also would have expected the author to have mentioned that Apache, and by implication Joomla, performs better when configuration directives are specified in the httpd.conf files rather than .htaccess files which must first be scanned for at a directory-by-directory level.
I had been looking forward to reading the chapter on creating extensions (chapter thirteen) but was rather disappointed. I had expected Rahmel to go into much more depth, especially as the blurb on the back of the book mentions how he has coded other solutions from scratch in PHP and ASP, so surely there would be hard-learned tips and some advice that he could share? Instead he hardly mentions the Joomla API nor does he provide a reference or link to where further information on the subject could be found.
I would like to say that the second edition of “Beginning Joomla!” is well rounded but the lack of detail on creating extensions and the differing levels of detail regarding security and performance tips makes me shy from saying that.
Also, I do wish that there was a list of recommended reading and a glossary in the book too – it is invaluable to have a “cheat sheet” of what different terms mean and also to know what other bodies of work are available to help you learn more.
To summarise – “Beginning Jooma! Secong Edition” is a well-written book aimed at (surprise) people new to using Joomla – it just could be better and the section on developing plugins or components should simply be dropped as it is not adequate and probably could have an entire book devoted to the subject.
Posted at 1:55 pm | Comments Off
23rd September, 2009
I was the the OSSBarCamp event in Dublin last Saturday and gave a lightning talk on PEAR. It went well (I think). The slides for it are now online at the talks.php.net website.
I’ll write up more thoughts on the event later if I find the time
Posted at 1:03 pm | Comments Off
28th August, 2009
Spotted two new articles on OpenStreetMap recently – one on the PocketLint site: “OpenStreetMap – Crowd sourced cartography set to re-map the world“; and the other on Wired: “GPS Hackers Blaze Own Trails With Crowdsourced Maps“.
They both mention how OpenStreetMap cartography is more detailed than the alternatives produced by Navteq, Teleatlas et al and the Wired article even goes to include at least four links to various parts of the OSM wiki and mentions some of the devices that our maps can be used on such as iPhones, TomToms and so on.
What with this and more OSM ‘love’ spilling into Episode 83 of Floss Weekly – Steve Coast, founder of OpenStreetMap, was interviewed in Episode 81 it looks like activity is only going to increase.
Posted at 7:45 am | Comments Off
21st July, 2009
There’s a Geeknic (picnic for geeks if you aren’t too sure) on in Farmleigh Park, Dublin in a few weeks time (on Sunday 2nd August @ 1pm). I can’t help but notice that the OpenStreetMap map of Farmleigh could do with a bit of attention – from what I can make out there are unnamed roads on the OSM map along with ones that aren’t there – and as we all know, we can add as much detail as we feel necessary
So, anybody on for a bit of socialisin’, evangelisin’ and map making?
Posted at 12:52 pm | Comments Off
16th June, 2009
As most of you will probably know OSM is to printed atlases from AA, Ordnance Survery etc, as wikipedia is to encyclopedias. People can contribute data to the project through a variety of activities: going out and actually mapping an area with a sat nav or gps unit [even a mobile phone with GPS in it such as an iphone, nokia n95 or whatever], tracing data off Yahoo [and other] aerial imagery, filing bugs on the openstreetbugs website or literally drawing in information via the walking papers map making website. And better again, this is about providing free geographic data such as street maps to anyone who wants them.
Anyway…I mentioned how the OpenStreetMap map of Nenagh is more complete than even the latest commercially available maps for Garmin and Google Maps and listed off a few ways how OSM could be used commercially: by real estate agents, courier companies, how being able to pin-point where all the amenities are would be useful for tourists, and so on.
Compare the Open Street Map of Nenagh with the Google Map of the area – as you can see, there’s still quite a bit of work to be done – Millers Brook needs to be marked as such along with the various groves, avenues etc that comprise that estate. Plus all the amenities, shops [perhaps even their opening hours] and the Shannon Development Industrial Centre still need to be added – as I’m sure are some other small portions of the town that I’ve unknowingly neglected.
It’s fair to say that this will never be finished – existing housing estates will be extended, there will always be urban development plans that when implemented would also need to be included on the map.
I discovered the OpenStreetBrowser site to be a great test of the data that myself and others have entered – it’s also a great way of demonstrating just what can be done with OSM data.
If you happen to spot something that I’ve missed please either drop me a comment or use the openstreetbugs website.
On a related note: it would be good to see a PEAR/PHP based client/component for interfacing with the OpenStreetMap server so that interesting apps utilising that data could be implemented on the LAMP stack – something to go alongside the Services_GeoNames package from pear
Posted at 11:38 pm | Comments Off
14th January, 2009
I got tagged by Chuck for this “7 Things” meme. So here are 7 things you may not know about me:
- I first met my wife at her house warming party seven years ago – it took four years for anything to happen though! I’m so happy it finally did though!
- My first computer was a ZX Spectrum 48K that was bought when I was seven years old – I’ve since progressed through BBC computers, Apple Macs and then onto PCs. I also had a accounts on the WRTC vax – VMS and OSF/1.
- I might be Irish but my surname isn’t.
- I read a lot of fantasy: Gemmell, Eddings, Tolkien, Pratchett; though I also enjoy Tom Clancy and Dale Brown novels.
- I’m long-sighted in one eye and short-sighted in the other: one good reason why I’ve never been that good at sports.
- I am an active PEAR developer.
I’m supposed to tag 7 other people who then repeat the whole process:
- Proinnsias Breathnach for being such a good friend all this time. And because he doesn’t blog enough.
- Kae Verens for having a name that sounds the same as his first inital – and for helping out loads at the IPUG stand at last year’s Irish Opensource Technology Conference.
- Donncha O Caoimh for his trojan work back in the day with the ILUG CMS and for WordPress mu.
- Jaime Hemmett for her exuberance and energy she’s brought to the Irish PHP scene.
- AJ McKee for starting the Irish PHP Users Group in the first place!
- Justin Mason for Spam Assassin, SiteScooper and being an all round nice guy.
- Fuzzix for his levity and humour. That plus he’s a ZX head like myself.
Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
Share seven facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird.
Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter
Posted at 8:57 pm | Comments Off
8th August, 2008
I woke this morning with a grin. Nope, nothing to with the Olympics; PHP 4 is dead and by that I mean it is no longer supported – no more official security updates for PHP 4 – or backports from PHP 5 or PHP 6.
The last release of PHP 4.4 occurred yesterday.
Why is this important – and why am I grinning?
PHP 5 has improved support for Object Oriented Programming, PDO, numerous performance and security enhancements that make continuing to maintain or develop PHP4 specific code a mugs game.
The enhancements in PHP 5.3, which is scheduled to be released in October, and those in PHP6 make it all the more compelling to move from PHP4.
If you are a developer and are unaware of this or are clinging on to PHP4 for dear life, you’d do yourself a favour by evaluating all options open to you – including a change of career.
The hosting market may be slow to catch up but remember this: there will be no more security updates for PHP4 and there are security enhancements in PHP5. Compelling reasons to ask your hosting provider if they do PHP5 hosting. Web hosts who are dedicated to supporting PHP 5.2 or later are listed on the gophp5 website.
Blacknight are the only Irish hosting company listed there.
Ivo Jansch, CTO of iBuildings painted a fairly bleak picture a month ago regarding continued PHP4 usage; poising the question “what if there’s an exploit for PHP4 and the bad guys are waiting until after 8/8/8 to make malicious use of it”. This is just scare-mongering but he does make a valid point, after today it will take longer than usual, if at all, for a fix against such expoints to be made available. So if you’re in business it would be wise to consult with your hosting company ASAP.
Posted at 1:37 pm | Comment (0)